Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Single" Married Parent

No, our marriage is fine. But the kids couldn't get to sleep last night because they heard me yelling. They asked this morning whether we're going to "get unmarried." My answer: "Absolutely not."

I was yelling at Peter for letting yet another major household task fall through the cracks instead of telling me he couldn't handle it. His lack of delegation has been an issue all ten years we've been together, and lately it's been worse. It's been worse for a good reason: he's been consumed by the process of securing the job he expects to move into. He has many ADD behaviors, though he's never been diagnosed; at present, he seems to have the typical hyperfocus. I have rarely complained about picking up the slack when he's dropped tasks without telling me, but last night my dam burst.

Why?  He has let slide a home repair project that will probably involve taking out a kitchen window and rebuilding the ceiling above it and the floor below. We use the room daily. It cannot be shut off from the rest of the house. Since it's a repair of water damage, mold might be involved. Being asthmatic, I really wanted this repair to be made while the weather was warm enough for lots of ventilation. Being the mom, I also wanted it done over the summer, not during the school year. I had said as much to Peter. Several times. And he had promised to contact a specific contractor, the favorite of a very knowledgeable person. I suppose I could have stepped in, but my experience has been that contractors prefer to talk to "the husband," at least at first. And Peter kept telling me he'd get to it "tomorrow." When he finally did--yesterday--all my anger about the situation came out.

FYI, I have taken on the next step in the project. And--yeah--the contractor isn't calling me back.

Managing gracefully when a spouse fumbles is a skill I guess all parents have to learn if they're parenting with a partner. Peter and I refuse to badmouth each other to our kids, but the kids can see when we're angry. Since Peter's the one who's most often home later than he says he will be, the one less familiar with household routine, the less methodical one, the more forgetful one, the kids more often see my anger towards him than his towards me. But they still adore him, so I guess I'm not giving too bad an impression. After all, I adore him too. Usually, I think of his ADD as a gift that keeps him in the "now" much better than my planning-and-remembering brain can manage. That gift enables him to make me--and the kids--feel deeply loved.

Do I resent spending so much of my energy planning and remembering for another adult when I'd like to use it, say, for writing my book? Yeah. Do I know how to help M and K NOT grow up thinking their father is an absentminded professor or a buffoon? Not yet. But do I think the differences between Peter and me show our kids that people can learn to work together even though they get angry? Yeah. For adopted kids especially, we think this is a good family lesson.

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